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Greetings to thousands of readers the past month from the United States and Canada, as well as the United Kingdom, Russia, India, Germany, France, Japan and Latvia.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Canada seeks Asian Pacific markets for oil, energy resources

   Canada column for Sunday, March 25/12

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s government continues its quest to boost prosperity by selling some of its vast energy resources to Asian Pacific countries after feeling snubbed by the United States.
   In Thailand, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced an agreement for talks toward a free-trade deal.
   This is his second visit and sales pitch to Asia after the U.S. government shelved a decision on allowing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to deliver Canadian crude oil to Texas refineries.
   "Our government believes it's essential that we be able to sell our energy products outside of North America to countries other than the United States," Harper said.
   After the Keystone decision delay, Canada now wants to proceed with the Northern Gateway pipeline to move Alberta crude one province west to British Columbia ports to supply oil-thirsty Asian countries.
   Harper visited China in February and on this trip will also visit Japan and South Korea to talk trade.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Immigration policy costly to Canadian taxpayers: Fraser Institute

   Canada column for Sunday, March 18/12

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   A leading public policy organization wants Canada’s immigration selection process revamped to counter the huge cost caused by people emigrating to the country.
   The Fraser Institute said the cost of supporting immigrants who arrived in Canada between 1987 and 2004 is between $16 billion and $23 billion a year.
   That’s because they receive more in government services and payments per person than they pay in taxes.
   “As a result of Canada's welfare-state policies, our progressive income taxes and universal social programs, these immigrants impose a huge fiscal burden on Canadian taxpayers," said report co-author Herbert Grubel.
   Immigrants who have come to Canada since 1987 “are not doing as well economically” as those who came previously, with their annual income 72 percent of that of other Canadians, he said.
   The controversial report calls on the government to scrap the points-based selection process and instead let the market decide the types of workers and professionals that are needed in Canada.
   Report co-author Patrick Grady said their lower income and tax payments “are likely to persist over all stages of their lives.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Air Canada strike/lockout averted by federal government

   Canada column for Sunday, March 11/12

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government has moved swiftly to avert a labor disruption that would have grounded Air Canada flights during the busy March school break week.
   Air Canada was preparing to lock out its 3,000 pilots at midnight Sunday as the union representing 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents planned to go on strike.
   The work stoppage would have coincided with the holiday break when hundreds of thousands of Canadians are flying to southern destinations and abroad.
   “I'll be darned if we will now sit by and let the airline shut itself down,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.
   Labor Minister Lisa Raitt called in the Canadian Industrial Relations Board to investigate the “potential effects on health and safety” that a strike/lockout would cause.
   The investigation will involve contract demands for both pilot and ground workers unions and no work stoppage is allowed during that time.
   “My concern is not management or labor: my concern is the broader Canadian public and I think the public overwhelmingly expects the government to act,” Harper said.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tough budget coming for Canadians on March 29

   Canada column for Sunday, March 4/12

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians will learn on March 29 how the federal government plans to cut spending by about $5 billion a year within three years.
   The much-awaited, no-frills federal budget will outline “what we’re doing in terms of the deficit-reduction action plan and much more than that, this is a jobs and growth budget,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said.
   There are concerns the Conservative government will cut programs, jobs and announce a plan to start scaling back pensions, including making Canadians wait beyond age 65 to receive the monthly “Old Age Security” payments.
   Government workers are bracing for cutbacks and plan to protest next Thursday on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
   They have been “protected” during the recession and it is “realistic that we ask the public service to participate in the belt-tightening,” Flaherty said.
   Overall, the government is “talking about relatively small spending reductions,” he said, with cuts being “modest” in a budget of $265 billion.
   Government revenues are expected to be more than predicted with the continued strength of commodity prices, particularly for oil, a major Canadian export.